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Merry Christmas 2020 - A year in Review.

Merry Christmas to everyone,  2020 has been a very different year for everyone and I wanted to outline how our year has been. There have been up’s downs but here are some of the highlights!

Jan-March:

5 year anniversary cake

Lots of changes at Tapavino, new drink menu, new cook, and we even started doing comedy nights. With the drink menu, we started creating more unique cocktails with fresh ingredients like grapefruit, chives, and even red pepper! Our new cook was quite talented and created some fantastic dishes in the short time he was with us. We celebrated the 5 year anniversary, had a fantastic turnout and even did some speeches. it was great to be able to see so many friends, family and other supporters out for the occasion. Miranda baked another one of her beautiful cakes for the event! I have such a talented lady!😊 There were a few hiccups, one of which was our ice machine broke! Luckily we had a mini-freezer out at the farm… no plow and lots of snow at that point so we had to drag it out on a sled! Glad the driveway is only 100ft… don’t think we would have made it much further than that! I changed accountants, a great guy on the west end with a unique office (It has trains, and candy and all sorts of fun stuff)

We also got a new (to us) truck! Its small and a little rusty, but it does the job. We named it Ranger, as it is a Ford Ranger… I know, super creative! We have gotten a lot of use out of it in the short time we have owned it, we needed a truck for a while to bring things back and forth between Edmonton and the farm, and it definitely helps when we go camping!

 

In February, Miranda and I attended our first big event with WFG, we went to the Rimrock Hotel in Jasper. It was breathtaking, such beautiful scenery in the mountains and the hotel itself was beautiful. All the meals were included with the conference and they were so delicious… Miranda and I are usually pretty picky when it comes to dining out, and are not impressed very often, but wow, those guys knocked our socks off! As for the conference, we planned to only watch certain parts and sight see in between, but honestly we felt like we would miss something fantastic if we got up. The speakers had a lot of great tangible tips as well as super inspirational messages and stories. We ended up watching everything and were very glad we did, helped me put a lot of things in perspective and really affirmed my decision to work with such fantastic leadership. We met a lot of great people too, definitely a trip I will never forget.

Pd books from the Sicoli house!

Really amped up the personal development, something I had not really considered much in the past. The way I saw it was, “I’m good, I don’t need to improve, what is this self help stuff?” It was something that seemed great in theory, but didn’t have much merit in actual pursuits. “So what if I dream big, that isn’t going to help me do this task”.. what I learnt is that personal development leaches out into everything you do, it focuses more on how you operate on a personal level so you can maximize how you operate in other areas of your life. Personal development is paramount to success so I have been reading tons of personal development books and am always thirsty on my quest to create a better me! One of the things I heard recently that I I love is just trying to get 1% better every day, you don’t have to change everything overnight, but 1% everyday compounds faster than you think. When my Mom sold the family house, I was able to raid the bookshelf for a few PD gems, including some John Maxwell books who in my opinion is one of the best on the subject of leadership and personal development.

March onwards:

So March hit, COVID started becoming a really serious threat in Canada. Many people were devastated, but honestly you know what happened, I’m not going to harp on what happened in the global politics, just how it affected us. By mid march, I was told the restaurant had to be closed, no dine-in clients. As we were 98% Dine in business, this was a tough blow. We did at first pivot, I began doing wine delivery, pasta kits, and the occasional takeout order. The restaurant was indeed very slow, to the point that most of the staff was laid off. I decided to put all services except the phone on hold, there were a few events that helped through the initial phases of lockdown. We had a fantastic catering event for a few friends (Nick & Victoria) at a beautiful cabin in the heart of downtown Edmonton. I did not know such a place even existed but it was beautiful, the building had so much character and overlooked the golf course. We also had a few people that just loved our pasta boxes, but it was clear that I would need to put more efforts into my WFG business as things continued with the pandemic.

I started going full time with WFG in April and had some of the busiest months coming out of that. I was very motivated to do something different and decided to see what a full time career would look like with this company. It hasn’t always been peaches and cream, but the work that I do is very fulfilling and It fits me like a glove. The thing I love most about the company is that I operate as an independent broker so, I can run my business the way I see fit! I have grown a lot over the course of this year, and am excited to see what 2021 will bring for my business.

May was a fantastic month for morels! I have never seen so many in my life! They look kinda weird but these are a delicious edible that Miranda and I love! Paul came out foraging with us, it was his first time and he found the most! We all had very full baskets that day, and for the following 3 weeks! We did a bunch stuffed with cream cheese, in a gravy and then dehydrated a good portion of them. We still have a bunch of them in the middle of winter! We found some other mushrooms (boletes and oysters) through the year, but the morels were really the star of the show!

July, we went to Pierre’s Grey Campground for Nick’s birthday. We went canoeing, fishing, and had some tasty beverages! Went on a few beautiful hikes and Miranda was able to share some of her plant knowledge with Nick! It was nice going to a trip like that, we were able to bring the dogs along so they got to enjoy all the nature with us! On the way back we stopped to see the giant squirrel in Edson, thus adding to our album of “big things across Canada”

In July We got bees out at the farm! We don’t own bees “yet” , We have some people down the range road that needed a place to put some bees, so BAM! We have

Bees!

bees, more like rental bees. But it is great to have the pollinators and the local honey, yum! We also rent our land to cows, which didn’t bother the bees at all. We had a few new finds, some mushrooms we have yet to identify (so we didn’t pick any) but we found some wild mint & berries and whipped up some tasty wild mojitos!

August Long, we went to visit our friends Sarah & Neil in Saskatchewan. We rode horses, moved hay and mended fences. We picked some of the biggest saskatoon berries I have ever seen and made a fantastic cobbler with it! It was great to go on a trip, even if it was not that far, and to see some friends we don’t get to see that often. In August, we also got a resolution to our court matter in Vimy, Ab. For those of you that don’t know. In spring of 2019, we had a break in at the farm. An 85 year old woman did a B&E and took anything that wasn’t nailed down. She broke many things and tried to throw a 17 year old kid under the bus to take the blame. It took longer than we expected to get a resolution, but we finally can put that behind us.

One of the masks Miranda made.

September, they made masks mandatory everywhere so Miranda created some cool masks from a template she found online. Miranda also went on a trip

Our garden this year

to Williams Lake to visit with her mom & Auntie Sherry. She went to soda creek to pick corn and also came back with a squash that is currently dying on the counter (wow those last a while!) From there she went to visit her friend Kelly in Chase, BC before returning home.

A really great growing season this year one of our best years for tomatoes, I built a trellis and had made sure to pull any suckers off so we had a great crop this year! It was our first time doing sunflowers and they were fantastic! Such a great pop of color in the yard, we wondered why we weren’t doing them sooner.

October I really wanted to put more life into my home office so I started putting plants all around. They have had a hard time adjusting, but hopefully they will love their new home… eventually… We started doing some mushroom growing indoors. We haven’t had too much success with the lions mane but the oysters grew quite easily. This is something we will need to perfect going forward. Halloween was a lot of fun, Miranda and I really embraced the holiday this year. We carved pumpkins, painted some cardboard cut-outs and even did a candy shoot so everyone could enjoy trick or treating from a distance.

In November I was able to sell the restaurant, it was a tough decision, but the way things were going in my financial career, it didn’t make sense to dedicate time towards Tapavino, especially in the later phases of lockdown. The people I sold it to are some really great young guys, and I am excited to see what they do with the place. I am already on the wait list for their soft open in February (or whenever gatherings are allowed) They loved the vibe I was able to create in that space and will continue it along as best as possible. We were both very happy with the transaction, which doesn’t happen all that often. We did a small get together to celebrate the times we had there, including virtual participation over zoom, projected on the wall. Even sabered a bottle of wine open. IT WAS AWESOME!!! And there was no blood or mess… 10/10 would definitely do it again.

December we always embrace the Christmas spirit pretty wholeheartedly, it is one of Miranda’s favorite holidays so we always make sure to deck the halls, so to speak. We got an even bigger tree this year, it barely fits in the living room. There is garland on almost every ledge, and we created a fun advent calendar/punch box filled with goodies that Miranda can enjoy (as she doesn’t eat sugar). Miranda even went as far as decorating the office that she works at! (Ram Mechanical) Later in the month we attended a SCARS virtual fundraiser. It was hilarious, and what was even funnier than the comedians was their reaction to not having an audience… I bet it was a very strange experience for them, but on our end it was hilarious!

Miranda continued with her horsemanship course this year, putting her at a level 3 English horse rider! She loves horses so much and loves the opportunity to be around them at the WELCA, but due to COVID has not been able to spend as much time there as she would like under different circumstances. She did however donate some motion lights so they don’t have to put the horses away in the dark, these have been very helpful but also have given many of the people there quite a shock! (as they go on without notice)

Over the course of the year I got really into fermenting, it started with ginger beer, and then any fruit I could get my hands on. I haven’t been creating much for alcoholic beverages, just a bunch of different sodas, all fermented naturally. They taste great, a little acidic if you let them go too long, but a very refreshing beverage none the less.

Lots of good food over

Selfie with the tree!

the year, and got a lot of great use out of our smoker! We started using curing salts and made our first few hams, bacon, smoked salmon, smoked corn, and just so much smoked deliciousness.

2020 has been a long year, but we have done what we can to make the most of it. I’m sure in many years we will look back at all the craziness that happened

and laugh. There were many things that we can look back and be angry about, but there were many great things to come out of 2020. At the very least this year has helped us put the important things into perspective and be grateful for the things we have. We are still able to meet virtually and connect through phone, email and social media. So I would like to raise a toast to 2020, here is looking toward the future and a fantastic 2021!

Wishing you and yours a merry Christmas and a Happy New year

Sterando (Stephen & Miranda)

7 Responses

  1. Wow nice songs, you 2 are quite the duet! I always enjoy Dominic! It was great getting to know the both of you better from reading your newsletter. Miranda is so pretty! Keep up with your interests and plans and we can all hope for a better year in 2021!

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